On Monday, March 10, 1997, we met a girl named Buffy Summers who was special.
In honor of the twenty-second anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in this edition of Blast From The Past we remember the episode that started it all. The series premiere. The pilot episode titled “Welcome to the Hellmouth” aired on the now defunct The WB network on Monday, March 10, 1997. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was originally slated to air in the Fall of 1996, but was pushed back to a Spring season consisting of 12 episodes.
Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) was a vampire slayer “One girl in one the world with the skill and strength to kill vampires.”
She was special. And viewers would soon learn Buffy The Vampire Slayer was a special series. Of course the title alone was enough to yield skeptics. And then there was the less than stellar movie version for which the series was based. But besides for the title, main character name and premise, the movie version and television version were as different as vampires and werewolves.
From the teaser opening where the attractive blonde girl turned out not to be the victim but the evil creature (Darla, brilliantly played by Julie Benz), we knew this series would be full of surprises (more on that later).
Buffy comes to Sunnydale from Los Angeles where she burned down her former high school’s gym (in order to kill vampires). Although she wants to live a normal tenth grader life, when Buffy makes a trip to the school library to get a textbook she needs for a class she meets the librarian Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), who reveals himself to be her Watcher, someone who trains the Slayer to fulfill her destiny.
Instead of the textbook she needs for class, Giles gives her a different kind of book:
Great big bummer for the Buff…so much for the life of a normal teenage. At least our Ms. Summers didn’t have to face evil all by her slayer lonesome. Buffy befriends Alexander “Xander” Harris (Nicholas Brendan) and Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) and they soon join Buffy in ridding the world of the forces of darkness.
Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) or “Queen C” as her car license plate says is the most popular girl at Sunnydale High. She has beauty and money and her own set of minions called the “Cordettes.” Since Buffy was from LA, naturally Cordy assumed she was cool. Buffy passed Cordelia’s coolness test (again because Ms. Summers was from Los Angeles, she got to skip the written). Like it or not, Cordelia gets swept into the Slayer’s world…which probably met hefty dry cleaning bills to get the blood out of Cor’s designer clothes.
Then there was that handsome but lurking guy who was following Buffy to deliver cryptic messages of danger. His name was Angel. He seemed to know a lot about vampires. Why? Because it was later revealed that Angel himself was in fact a vampire. But the good kind…un-dead boy had not only fangs but a soul. It wasn’t long before slayer and vampire supposed foes fell in love (remember when I said this series was full of surprises?)
Anyway, back to our trip down Buffy pilot memory lane. Buffy learns Sunnydale sits above a Hellmouth (I wonder how much real estate is there and did Century 21 know about the demons beneath the properties? If potential buyers knew, they could talk the asking price down real low) and a powerful centuries old vampire known as The Master (Mark Metcalf) is trapped in a mystical force trying to be released into the world. Darla and his second-in-command vampire Luke (Brian Thompson) work on freeing him.
“Welcome to the Hellmouth” received a 3.4 million television viewing rating. It was obvious The WB had a hit on their hands with Buffy The Vampire Slayer. But no one knew at the time the popularity (and tie-in merchandise) the series about a girl who kills vampires (and other supernatural beings) would yield. Buffy The Vampire Slayer was a trailblazer for strong females capable of protecting themselves. The show was smartly done, well written and acted and will forever be a part of pop culture for being ahead of it’s time.
Happy 22nd Anniversary Buffy The Vampire Slayer…you slayed then and you still slay.
Video Courtesy of Steven Brandt
Photos taken from the internet; credit given to the original sources
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